Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on October 8, 2011
Little House on the Prairie Wedding Dresses
As a long-time fan of the “Little House” series of books and the “Little House” tv series inspired by these childhood classics, I just love studying the costumes worn in the stories! Laura Ingalls Wilder gave articulate details on all her fashionable dresses in the books “Little Town on the Prairie” and “These Happy Golden Years“. Any Little House fan should know that due to a shortage of time, the real Laura Ingalls’ wedding gown was actually a black cashmere dress! But today I’d like to take a look at the Little House on the Prairie wedding dresses shown on the 1970s tv show.
Which of these three Little House girls wore white wedding gowns for their on-screen weddings?
Mary Ingalls (Melissa Sue Anderson)
Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim)
Laura Ingalls (Melissa Gilbert)
The correct answer? None of them! When you watch these girls’ wedding episodes, you will find it amusing that all of the weddings, even if the couples were previously engaged, had something sporadic or unplanned about the actual wedding date. All of them were either married on a different date than planned,were married outside of Walnut Grove, or were married by someone other than their minister Reverend Alden!
Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls wore a lovely light blue gown, with long sleeves and a frill of lace at the high neckline. This wedding dress had decorative buttons down the front, and was handed down to Mary from her mother Caroline Ingalls who had supposedly worn it for her own bridal gown. (In reality, Mary Ingalls never married, and the evidence we have suggests that Caroline’s wedding gown was either black or very dark colored. )
Mary & Adam’s wedding took place right after a tornado, and though their local minister began the ceremony, Reverend Alden showed up half way through the speech and took over from that point. The episode in which Mary Ingalls gets married is aptly named “The Wedding“.
Nellie Oleson, one of television’s most hated characters, married her Jewish husband Percival Dalton/Isaac Cohen on very short notice. Their wedding episode, “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not“, suggests that they were engaged for possibly as little as one day, and they were married by Doctor Baker since Percival’s mother didn’t want him married by a “Reverend”.
Nellie (Alison Arngrim) and Percival (Steve Tracy) had had an interesting relationship for a short amount of time, probably a month or so, during which Nellie called him names and Percival poured raw eggs on her head. Since Nellie was such a terrible child all through the Little House series, it was only fitting that she also practically proposed to him!
But about her wedding dress! It was very hard to get a good still shot of the dress since their wedding scene was so short, but it was a lovely pink brocade gown which had a hidden hook-and-eye closure down the back. Nellie Oleson’s wedding dress had a low neckline filled in with white taffeta, and she wore an enormous pink bow in her blonde curled wig.
Laura Ingalls, perhaps the best-loved of all the Little House children, wore her sage green church dress for her unexpected wedding. It wasn’t that she and Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler), hadn’t been engaged already, and in fact this whole episode shows the ups and downs of their long engagement when Almanzo’s wheat crop fails. But just when everything looks hopeless, Eliza Jane Wilder comes up with a plan to make it work, and Laura and Almanzo get married in the blind school that Mary & Adam work at.
Once again, this wedding takes place in an unfamiliar location (not one of the girls was married in the Walnut Grove church), and Laura and Almanzo were married by a preacher they’d never met before! (This episode is called simply “Laura Ingalls Wilder“).
Laura’s lovely wedding dress was a two-piece sage green linen or cotton, with a lovely pleated “peplum” in the back which revealed light pink insets. In the front, this prairie outfit had princess seams, a pink ruffle at the neckline, and pearly buttons down the front of the bodice.
She wore a shirred and ruched poke bonnet made to match, though for the ceremony itself Laura had baby’s breath flowers in her hair. After the wedding, this outfit was worn quite often by Laura Wilder for parties, church events, and important social functions.
Today the dress worn by Melissa Gilbert for the “Laura Ingalls Wilder” episode is on display at a Wild West museum in Arizona, along with another one of her “young lady” dresses and the gown her mother Caroline wore for the same episode. The dress appear to be in excellent condition, but is displayed without the matching bonnet.
So who did wear a white wedding dress on the “Little House” tv shows? After having the entire series memorized for a number of years, I can only think of two or possibly three weddings where the brides actually wore white.
The most traditional of these was Willie Oleson’s and Rachel Brown’s wedding, which took place in the Walnut Grove church with Reverend Alden performing the ceremony.
Rachel’s white gown was lovely, with lots of bustly bows in the back and ruffled frills of lace at her sleeve ends.
After years of being an annoying child, Willie turned his character around just in time to get married to Rachel Brown.
Another wedding that comes to mind was Hester Sue Terhune’s, who wore a spectacular white gown at the height of Victorian 1880s fashion.
An absolutely breathtaking Victorian wedding dress!
Of all the wedding dresses worn for the tv series, this is one my all time favorite Little House costumes!
This one doesn’t count as an actual wedding gown though, because she and her ill-intentioned fiancee’ broke their engagement just moments before the ceremony!
The only other white wedding dress scene that comes to mind is Charles’ and Caroline’s! Obviously the Little House shows didn’t make an episode of their real wedding which would have occurred years before, but in season eight the producers put together a wonderful episode called “I Do, Again” that portrays the mid-life crisis stricken Charles and Caroline having a second wedding. Here again, this wedding takes place outside of Walnut Grove and planned on a short amount of time. Charles & Caroline Ingalls (Michael Landon and Karen Grassle), join a younger couple for a double wedding ceremony and two gorgeous Victorian wedding dresses!
Caroline Ingalls’ friend lends her an heirloom wedding gown which fits her perfectly for their last-minute wedding. While we have no record that anything like this ever occurred in the actual Ingalls family, it made for the most lovely episode!
I hope y0u’ve enjoyed these wedding dresses, and I’d love to hear which Little House costume was your favorite!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on September 27, 2011
This week the Jane Austen Festival was held in Bath, England with all the festivities this occasion calls for - a costumed promenade in Regency dress and numerous dances and balls! Since it has been over two years since my own participation in this costumed ritual, I wanted to write about my favorite memories of this remarkable Regency event.
After years of admiring all the lovely Regency costumes from Jane Austen films, I had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to England for a historical costume tour back in 2009. Studying the breathtaking gowns in numerous museum collections that dated back to the 1600s was absolutely unbelievable, and walking down the historic streets of London was just thrilling. But one of the hightlights of the trip for me was actually getting to dress up in period costume for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath! It wasn’t that this was my first opportunity to sew a Regency dress (my closet was already stuffed with historical reproductions), but it was a rare time when an event not only allowed for, but actually required that you wear an entire outfit from the early 1800s!
When I began planning for the trip nearly a year prior to our departure date, I was sure I would have oodles of newly made dresses to take over on the historical costume tour. But as the trip drew closer, I didn’t even have my fabric cut out until about two weeks before my flight! There was little doubt as to which Jane Austen film costume I wanted to reproduce – ever since I had watched the 1995 “Pride & Prejudice”, I knew that someday I just had to sew Elizabeth Bennet’s green spencer jacket!
Unlike most Spencers of the Regency era, this jacket scoops low in the back just as their dress necklines did, and it had the most gorgeous puffed sleeves with three separate layers – long sleeves first, then short puffed sleeves, and finally a pointed cap sleeve over that. And the front of the jacket is just gorgeous with that rounded neckline, fitted band at the bottom, and full gathers under the empire waistline.
So when I began designing this jacket I mainly used pattern pieces from Sense & Sensibility’s Regency Patterns, mixing and matching various sleeves and drafting a few pieces myself. I cut out the bodice using Regency dress bodice pieces, and simply cutting them a size larger than I normally wear since I would need room for the dress underneath.
The pattern came together quickly, and I self-lined the jacket bodice front and back. I covered my own buttons for this Spencer, which was such a fun project! And for the sleeves I used the long sleeves and short sleeves from the S&S patterns, drafting a cap sleeve with those triangular points just like the film costume version. After I came back from England, I had a chance to watch “Pride & Prejudice” again where I noticed that I should have gathered the top of the sleeve cap to make it more puffy. So if I wear it again someday I will just rip out the top of the sleeve seam, gather the cap sleeve, and sew it back into the armsceye. But considering that I only had a few days to make it, I was so happy with the way it turned out!
For the rest of my Elizabeth Bennet costume, I sewed a simple Regency day dress in ivory cotton just like Lizzie wore in the opening scene. I used the gathered bodice option from the “Elegant Lady’s Closet Pattern“, with a straight front skirt from the Regency dress pattern since most of Elizabeth’s dresses had straight front skirts as well. (Besides the fact that I tend to get lost in too much fabric!)
Last of all, I was determined to make a Regency bonnet that looked just like the Jane Austen film costume! With the kind help of www.hatsupply.com , I was able to find a lovely straw “poke bonnet” style that was just perfect for my Regency reproduction! The 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice has Elizabeth wearing a simple straw bonnet with wide ribbon ties that match the color of her Spencer jacket. The ribbons are attached on the outside of her bonnet and are covered with a fan-shaped ribbon decoration which I attempted to recreate. Traveling with a bonnet was so tricky, because when you had to stuff it “under the seat in front of you” on the plane, it always ended up a bit more misshapen than it was before. It reminds me of when Lydia Bennet told Kitty that she was “squashing her bonnet“!
As for the Jane Austen Festival promenade itself, it was simply delightful! Over four hundred of us from all parts of the globe were decked out in authentic Regency costumes, and we even set the world record for “most people in Regency costume at one time”!
- You can just barely see the green sleeve of my spencer jacket in the bottom left of this photo.
We strolled through the streets of Bath, with its winding paths leading around the ancient granite buildings and into the monumental Royal Crescent where the entire group of promenade participants lined up for one massive photo shoot. When at last we reached out destination of the Assembly Rooms, I felt like I had just walked into a Jane Austen film! In the most elegant of ballrooms all four hundred of us crowded into the historic room where so many dances must have taken place back in Jane Austen’s day. In fact, Jane even mentioned this very location when one of her novel’s heroines attended a ball. A talented group of youngsters performed English country dances until the “town crier” announced that we had made it into the Guiness Book of World Records for “most people in Regency costume in one place at one time“. You can watch a video of the announcement here.
For the rest of the day, the S&S Historical Costume Tour group went to tea at the Jane Austen Center and explored the rest of this delightful town. I was surprised by how many Bath residents wondered, “May I ask why there are so many of you in those funny costumes today?” But I suppose if you live there, you wouldn’t automatically associate your hometown with a historcal figure from two centuries before. And there were some people who loved the costumes – one older man told me, “If I had a hat I would take it off to you!”
When the day had ended and it was time to return to the twenty-first century, I was a little sad to go back to wearing modern day clothes. But as I headed home from the trip, I knew that with the plethora of wonderful memories and a camera filled with five hundred pictures, this costume tour would never be forgotten!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on September 24, 2011
A Giveaway of Princess Catherine’s Wedding Dress Pattern – Butterick 5731/BP249
Pattern cover image is copyright by Butterick Patterns, 2011.
A couple of weeks ago I excitedly wrote a detailed post about the lovely new Butterick Royal Wedding Dress pattern, inspired by Princess Catherine’s magnificent wedding gown. I compared Butterick 5731 with the original royal wedding gown which the former Kate Middleton wore back in April. After purchasing a couple copies of this pattern myself, I decided that this is a terrific pattern which will make any bride feel like a princess for her big day!
You could even shorten the train to floor-length to create an elegant formalwear dress with this pattern.
And now Edelweiss Patterns is hosting a giveaway for this royal wedding dress pattern on our Facebook page! From now until October 1st, 2011, anyone can enter by simply leaving a comment under the link on the Facebook page, and one winner will be randomly selected and announced on the same day. The contest is open internationally, so feel free to enter here.
- At center and right are the original Sarah Burton wedding dress, on the left is the Butterick Patterns version.